Warner Bros. Greenlights AKIRA Remake for February 2012 Start; Jaume Collet-Serra to Direct and Garrett Hedlund Might Star

     October 19, 2011


If you’ve been keeping tabs on the development of the Akira remake over the past couple years, you know it has been a long and bumpy road up to this point.  Warner Bros. has always remained committed to the property, though.  According to Variety, the studio has finally made it official with a greenlight for a $90 million budget and an eye toward a late February/early March start date.  The report confirms that Jaume Collett-Serra (Unknown) will direct, and provides this synopsis for the Steve Kloves script:

Set in New Manhattan, the cyberpunk sci-fi epic follows the leader of a biker gang who must save his friend, discovered with potentially destructive psychokinetic abilities, from government medical experiments.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran are producing for Appian Way alongside Andrew Lazar, representing Mad Chance.  Katsuhiro Otomo, the man behind the Akira manga and the writer/director of the 1988 anime adaptation, will executive produce the remake.  More after the jump.  [Update: ...including a comment on the news that Tron: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund's is the frontrunner for one of the lead roles.]

akira_movie_posterIf Warner Bros. wants to get this in front of cameras by the spring they still need to, you know, cast this thing.  The studio was long in search of a big name or two—Brad Pitt, James Franco, Zac Efron, and Keanu Reeves were among the many rumored candidates—but has so far come up empty.  My gut says we hear a casting announcement in the next week or so.  Unfortunately, my gut also says that no casting announcement can possibly overcome our general unease at the idea of a Akira remake transplanted to “New Manhattan,” written in such a way that Keanu Reeves could have starred.

[Update: After I hit "Publish," Variety updated the report with the news that Hedlund is a frontrunner for one of the two lead roles.  No offer has been made yet, but WB and Collett-Serra are reportedly keen on the young actor.  Variety doesn't specify, but Hedlund was previously linked to the role of Kaneda in a shortlist.  In case this means that shortlist is credible, here's the list of actors identified for Tetsuo: Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, James McAvoy.

So, is your unease settled?  Mine isn't, and I liked Hedlund in Tron: Legacy more than most of our readers.  Let's wait until the news is official, and see who they cast as Tetsuo.  But man, this is going to be a tough sell to film geeks (the hypothetical Hedlundization) and general audiences (the uniquely Japanese weirdness).]

Here’s the synopsis for Volume 1 of the manga:

Akira is set in the post-apocalypse Neo-Tokyo of 2019, a vast metropolis built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by an apocalyptic blast of unknown power that triggered World War III. The lives of two streetwise teenage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when dormant paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, who becomes a target for a shadowy government operation, a group who will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like that which leveled Tokyo. And at the core of their motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear: a fear of someone — or something — of unthinkably monstrous power known only as… Akira. And Akira is about to rise! [Amazon]

  • nelson

    that tetsuo list is weird because all 3 look like straight up good guys who could’nt hurt a soul

    anyways hedlund is good for kaneda he has that perfect rebel biker look

  • Bryan

    Ugh Garrett Hedlund. They have enough to convince me of and they want to choose this basic guy.

  • jymmmymack

    Ok, enough with the Garrett Hedlund. How about people who have proven they can handle characters? Garfield and McAvoy seem like they would be much better as Kaneda than Tetsuo. Whatever happened to JGL as Tetsuo?

  • Strong Enough

    Andrew Garfield is perfect

    • Ally J.

      Seriously? Garfield is WAY too good for this crap. (Ditto for some of the other front runners!)

  • wacko3205

    Love the idea of JGL as Tetsuo…I have no idea who I’d pick for K. I’ve been an Akira fan since the dawn of the Manga & hope to Hey-Soose that they focus more on it than the animated film. While I did love the Anime…I love the depth of the printed material instead.

    What I say next will shock & cause eyes to roll…but I’m not to broken up over it being Americanized.

    The bulk of today’s movie goin’ Yanks’d be totallay OBLIVIOUS to the previous treatments & let’s face it…if its going to sell stateside as a blockbuster…well…it’s not quantum physics nor is it rocket science to come to terms with recognizing that most beer drinking, football loving, rubber burning, hill billie reTnecks aint gonna line up for a Japanese “sci-fi/super heroes” flick minus a trailer park chic/hot babe in trouble.

    I mean…really.


  • Darren

    I wish Hollywood would stop whitewashing film properties like this. The WB should have an asian cast and keep the setting in tokyo. Everything I have heard so far from this project sounds like overly-commercial teen-targeted trash. As much as thy want to change why even call this movie “Akira”?

    • Hiro the Eighth Samurai (and 14th Assassin)

      In complete agreement…

  • aromcath

    Basically, if we’re still white washing the story; which while I won’t go for the racism argument, I will argue it guts the thematic beats of Akira itself.

    That being said if the scriptwriter still mirrors what Cracked wrote about a couple of times earlier this year… my god will this movie gargle six week dead gangrene covered cock.

    • excpired

      Get used to it arom, we live in America. A country mostly filled with white people. If you make an American mainstream film, its going to star MOSTLY white people. If America wanted to make a Japanese movie then we’d be Japanese, let Japan adapt Akira into a Japanese Akira.

      It is sad, because of a country like Sweden or Norway was making this movie, nobody would complain about “white-washing,” because people recognize that its a white country. When will people learn that America is also still a white country. I bet you couldn’t even name 4 young asian actors who could fit the parts w/ out using IMDB.

      • Lance

        I don’t buy that argument. Films with white people play well in countries that aren’t filled with white people. That’s why Hollywood’s the entertainment capital of the world, not just the Western world.

        We gotta stop repeating the same tired crap you’re espousing, and at some point people are going to realize that just because a cast isn’t mostly white, it doesn’t mean the movie’s not meant for white people.

        Besides, America’s getting less white all the time. Someday your argument will become, “We gotta make Akira all Hispanic/Latino.” Which granted, could be interesting, but why not stick with the source material?

      • Pepe

        Granted, I can’t name all of them unless I look at IMBD, but I can definitely picture four Asian actors that would be great for the staring roles. Jay Chou (Green Hornet), John Cho (Harold and Kumar)…then the guy from Ninja Assassin, and the two Asian guys from the Fast and the Furious Franchise.

        Just saying, remember the awfulness that was Dragon Ball Z?

      • rationale

        Akira is a Japanese story written by a Japanese person for a Japanese audience. The only reason it’s being recast is because open-minded patriots like excpired won’t go see a movie with a POC in the starring role.

    • Cartouche

      You are all idiots. Stop trying to villify white people and assume its being white washed. We are the most diverse country in the world dipshits.

      They arent choosing these names based on their skin color they are basing their choices on NAME RECOGNITION. Hedlund and Garfield are up and comers that they can get for a lot cheaper than Keanu.
      Keanu is a front runner, well because he sells tickets MORONS! Hollywood makes movies to make money and unless you can name a proven asian actor who has serious star power we are all ears.

      Stop with the white guilt and white hate. I am not guilty because I was born white and no one should ever feel that way about who they are and what color they are. The only color that matters in hollywood is GREEN!

      • carrie

        I dare you to show a pic of Garrett Hedlund to three of your co-workers. If ONE of them knows who he is, I’ll concede defeat and say he has “name recognition”. But my guess is that much like a majority of the movie-going public, none of them will have a clue.

  • Ron

    It’s not surprising that Hayden Chris *oops* i mean Garrett Hedlund is the best they could find. I can’t see anyone else on those “wishlists” coming near this thing.

  • chiefofskater@hotmail.com

    nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo billion of shit hedlundddddddd is nooooooooo for kaneda shittttttttttttt ttt , joseph gordonn levitt is testuo , hedlund is no for kaneda , exagerrrr, about japanese actor ???????????????? shit hedlund is blond hair yu have seen ???? shittttttttttttttttttt because tron is shitttttt tronnnnn is not adapte akira !!!!!!!!!!!!, shitttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt about teenagers ????????? i knew joseph and top actor young who like look character as kaneda but no hedlundddddddddddddd!!!!!! shittttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt who did decide by wb or director reallly dont know chooose actors shittttt , about leonardo ‘s appain way for wb , shiittttttttt no luck for akira i hope !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! because tronnnnnnnnn take bastard !!!!!!!

  • carrie

    Casting Hedlund is such typical Hollywood misguidedness. “He played a guy on a motorbike-type thing before! He’s perfect!” When in reality he brings nothing to the box office so they might as well have saved some money and controversy by hiring an actual Asian actor for the role. Hedlund is both a weak actor and has no far reaching fame to help push this movie to audiences. What’s the point?

    Disaster in the making. I won’t be surprised if the actor chosen for Tetsua is none of the guys on that short list. Hedlund was by far the least famous name up for Kaneda. My guess is the rest hit the road.

  • Sparky

    I think this was covered before but going away from Japan and into Manhattan defeats the whole purpose of making this movie. One of the underlining themes was the Atomic bomb and it’s impact on Japan in the following decades.

    That’s the one detail killing this movie for me.

  • Rafa

    I would go with Jesse Eisenberg as Tetsuo and McAvoy as Kaneda.

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    BILLIONY OF NO : no no no no heldund is no for kaneda and alone joseph gordon lewitt for testuo and ken (inception ) for the colonnel !

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  • Kay


    • hanamirod

      Because that is what this country does. It destroys anything it comes in touch with.